Satellite images occasionally show the existence of mesocyclones (MCs) close to the eastern coast of Greenland, especially in the region of Angmagssalik/Tasiilaq. The forcing mechanisms of such MCs are investigated by means of numerical simulations with a three-dimensional mesoscale model. The special characteristics of the East Greenland topography are shown to be a key factor for the development of the MCs. The channeling of the flow in large valleys along the East Greenland coast leads to a convergence, implying a vertical stretching of the flow through the valleys and the generation of cyclonic vorticity. This convergence can be strong during intense katabatic storms, so-called Piteraqs, which are a much-feared phenomenon in that area of Greenland. During these situations the synoptic environment enforces the katabatic flow. The results of the simulations suggest a close relationship between the occurrence of Piteraqs and the generation of mesoscale vortices close to the East Greenland coast. An improved understanding of these processes will help forecasters to advise aircraft and ship operations near the coast of East Greenland. Copyright © 2002 Royal Meteorological Society.