The busiest Atlantic hurricane season on record ends Wednesday, but forecasters say next year's season could be just as active.

Since the season began June 1, a record 26 storms have achieved wind speeds high enough to be classified as tropical storms.  The latest, tropical storm Epsilon, formed in the Atlantic Tuesday.  Thirteen of those 26 reached hurricane force.

Three hurricanes: Katrina, Rita and Wilma -- temporarily became Category Five storms, featuring winds of at least 249 kilometers per hour.  All three weakened before making landfall.

Experts say Katrina was responsible for the deaths of some 1,300 people as well as tens of billions of dollars' worth of property damage.  It wiped out some Gulf Coast towns and left at least 80 percent of New Orleans under water.

Some experts say this year's severe storm activity is part of an active cycle that will last more than a decade.  Others contend it is the result of global warming.

Some information for this story provided by AP and Reuters.