NEW ORLEANS - Computer models show oil leaking from a damaged well in the Gulf of Mexico could wind up on the East Coast and even get carried on currents across the Atlantic Ocean toward Europe.

The National Center for Atmospheric Research models showed Thursday that oil could enter the gulf's loop current, go around the tip of Florida and as far north as Cape Hatteras, N.C.

According to researchers, oil could threaten East Coast beaches by early July, but they cautioned the models were not a forecast.

The oil could then head by Bermuda in route to Europe.

The work was supported partly by the National Science Foundation, which sponsors the Boulder, Colo.-based center.

"I've had a lot of people ask me, 'Will the oil reach Florida?' " said center scientist Synte Peacock, who worked on the study. "Actually, our best knowledge says the scope of this environmental disaster is likely to reach far beyond Florida, with impacts that have yet to be understood."

Watch the computer model via http://go.philly.com/oilpath EndText