Visitors descend the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in the rain Monday. (Craig Hudson/For The Washington Post)

The National Weather Service will inspect damage Tuesday after powerful storms swept across the Washington area overnight, closing roads, prompting water rescues and setting a daily rainfall record.

Preliminary reports Monday night placed a tornado touchdown in Howard County, close to the border with Carroll County in central Maryland. It appeared that the heaviest damage may have occurred in the Woodbine area of northwestern Howard, where two sheds were destroyed about 7 p.m. NWS crews hope to determine if damage in this and other locations in Maryland was, in fact, caused by a tornado or straight-line winds, the Associated Press reports.

“There was definitely a sound,” said Cynthia Lucas, who lives on Starting Gate Court, where the damage occurred. And, she said, knowing that the same description had been given so often before, “It WAS like a freight train.”

“There was debris everywhere,” she said. A tractor tire was blown a half mile, she added, but no one was hurt.

While noting that the storm had not been officially confirmed as a tornado, Howard County spokesman Mark Miller said it went on from Starting Gate through a wooded area, and damaged trees and power lines on Cabin Run Road.

The bands of storms that crossed the region after 7 p.m. seemed narrow in width, but memorable in their intensity.

At Reagan National Airport, almost an inch of rain was reported between 8 and 9 p.m. About five hours earlier, rainfall between 3 and 4 p.m. also amounted to nearly an inch. Combined with the rain that soaked the area in the early morning, the total for the day was 2.77 inches. That was well above the record for the date of 2.27 inches set in 1945.

The intensity of the downpours showed in the swiftness with which water rose to cover roads in low-lying areas. These included all lanes of Route 110 in Arlington County near the Memorial Bridge. Motorists were told about 9:20 p.m. to keep away for several hours.

In the District, officials received reports of flooding along the southern end of Beach Drive, in Rock Creek Park. Flooding was also reported at Nannie Helen Burroughs Avenue NE and Eastern Avenue.

Rescue personnel were sent to Beach Drive and Broad Branch Road NW, where motorists were said to be stranded in high water. The occupants of one car apparently extricated themselves, but the rescuers helped someone to safety from another vehicle.

Broad Branch Road remained closed early Tuesday, authorities s aid.

High water also rolled over streets and roads in upper Montgomery County, where stranded motorists were helped from stalled autos.

Flash flooding also was reported in parts of Fairfax County, including Clifton and the Baileys Crossroads area, as well as the Route 1 corridor near Groveton.

In the Huntington area of the county, which has flooded in the past, streets were flooding yet again, and officials warned that structures might also flood.

People who know rain found Monday’s impressive. One weather blog said .43 inches fell at National in six minutes.

“Oh,” wrote a resident of the Aspen Hill area of Montgomery in an online message. “So THIS is what torrential rain looks like.”

And it rained hard in Woodbine, where the twister was reported. “We just have a lot of flooding,” said Sharon DeJordy, a waitress at the Woodbine Inn.

A flood warning was in effect until early Tuesday morning for the District, and central Prince George’s County, and in the Seneca Creek area of Montgomery County. In the city, parts of Florida Avenue were reported closed. Flooding in that area has caused severe problems for residents in the past.