THE BRONX - The city has declared a snow alert as it gears up for a winter whiteout.

The Department of Sanitation is revving up its snowplows and has more than 250,000 tons of salt ready to coat the streets. Extra crews are also on standby, prepared to work 12-hour shifts to clean up the snow.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg says the city is prepared for the blizzard. He's urging people to leave work a little early today, and wants drivers to stay off the roads as much as possible so that plows can get to work.

Many Bronx residents flocked to local stores ahead of the storm to stock up on winter essentials, food and gas. Most say they're looking forward to staying indoors and relaxing for the weekend while they ride out the bad weather.

The city's public schools are open today, but after-school programs and sports have been canceled.