Hurricane Irene's path could go three ways as it moves north toward the New York area, and none of them are good.

The most likely scenario, based on current projections, is Irene making landfall on Long Island or in Connecticut and then moving north through western Massachusetts. However, it could also shift a bit to the east or to the west, which would mean landfall on Cape Cod or inland near Philadelphia. (Many of the hurricanes that have hit the region in the past have made landfall on eastern Long Island, doing the heaviest damage to Suffolk County and Rhode Island.)

At this point, the chances of Irene skirting New York and New England and moving out to sea are close to nil. The region will be hit by the storm, and probably hard; the only question is where exactly it will make landfall and how severe the damage will be.

We're not getting out of this without some significant weather one way or the other, National Weather Service meteorologist Bill Simpson told the Boston Globe Thursday morning. This is not like, 'There it goes! Near miss.'

Hurricane Irene will most likely make landfall in New York or New England on Sunday, but the outer edges of the storm will bring some rain Saturday night. Surf and rip currents will also become treacherous well before landfall, and there is some risk of tornadoes, but not severe ones.

The Boston Globe reported that the general rule on such counter-clockwise spinning storms is that if you're on the west side of the center you will see more rain and if you're on the east side you will see more wind, so small changes in Irene's path will determine what kind of weather individual areas experience.

Irene is currently moving north off the Florida coast as a Category 3 storm, according to a map from the Weather Channel, and it is expected to hit the North Carolina coast on Saturday. It will enter Virginia early Sunday morning and pass through Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey and Pennsylvania as the day continues, and by Monday morning, it is expected to be near Massachusetts and upstate New York. At that point, it could be anywhere from Category 2 to Category 4.

The storm will leave New England and cut across a wide swath of eastern Canada late Monday and early Tuesday. It remains to be seen how much damage it will leave behind.