MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Hurricane Sandy is on a collision course with one of the most populated areas of the United States.

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New Jersey is preparing for a possible direct-hit. Hurricane Irene slammed many communities there last year, so they’re taking no chances with this time around.

Right now, they’re draining man-made lakes and shoring up dunes that shelter homes. Sandy is expected to rumble up the East Coast and collide with two other weather systems, one bringing arctic air from the north.

That could create a monster hybrid storm that could bring heavy rain, powerful winds, and even snow.

Meteorologist Matt Brickman offered some perspective on what those storms looked like, and how Sandy could affect us here in Minnesota.

“You take all that tropical energy, all the heat from the tropics, you combine that with winter cold that’s an explosive ingredient in the atmosphere – and that’s why we think this storm has so much potential,” Brickman said.

This set up might look familiar. It’s very similar to what caused the infamous Halloween Blizzard in 1991.

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That October, Hurricane Grace, the so-called “Perfect Storm,” was churning out in the Atlantic. Grace blocked low pressure from moving out of the upper Midwest, keeping a steady flow of moisture rolling in.

For the Twin Cities, that spelled the largest single-storm snowfall to date.

This time though, high pressure is over the region, meaning that we’ll see the opposite result.

“It’s going to be seasonable and quieter west of the Mississippi. Sun and 50s for Minnesota,” he said.

Forecasters are also comparing this storm to Hurricane Irene, which pounded the East Coast with rain in August of last year. The storm racked up damage to the tune of $19 billion – the 5th costliest in U.S. history.

If the storm holds its track and intensity, flooding caused by Sandy could be more widespread and more intense.

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The experts predict this storm is likely to cause at least $1 billion in damage.