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Dry cracked earth that used to be the bottom of Lake Mead is seen near Boulder Beach on May 13, 2015 in Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Nevada. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

#10 of 10 Most Popular News Galleries of 2015: Water level in Lake Mead, largest reservoir in the US, drops 150 feet in 14 years

It’s one thing to hear about the severity of the drought out West, but images of Lake Mead, on the Colorado River, show an unprecedented drop in its water level and hammer home the severity of the drought.

Lake Mead, the nation's largest reservoir, is filled to only 40 percent of capacity. The 14-year drought in the area surrounding the Colorado River basin has resulted in an astounding 150-foot drop in water levels.

The bleached “bathtub ring” visible on the banks of Lake Mead towers more than a hundred feet over passing pleasure boats. “To see it in person is simply jaw-dropping, ” said photographer Justin Sullivan, who captured these powerful images.

Sullivan traveled throughout California, Nevada, and Arizona, covering the effects of the severe drought that grips parts of the western United States.

The forecast for this summer remains ominous as a below-average snowmelt from the mountains of Colorado, Wyoming, and Utah is expected to result in a low flow of water through the Colorado River Basin into two of its biggest reservoirs, Lake Powell and Lake Mead, said Sullivan.

The Colorado River Basin supplies water to 40 million people in seven western states, including California, which is in the midst of its fourth year of severe drought.

Several of the lake’s marinas have either relocated or closed, leaving docks that can accommodate nearly 300 boats sitting on dry, cracked earth. A hotel near the lake has closed and been abandoned, its empty swimming pool looking over the dry lakebed.

High winds kick up mini dust storms on the barren Boulder Beach and a fine dust covers cars driving down dirt roads that were once underwater. (David Handschuh/Yahoo News)

Photographs by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

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