I was puzzled by some of your comments but I think I now understand. The
most puzzling was:
"And if cosmic rays really did cause enough of an ion trail all the way from
the cloud to the ground then the strokes would always be arrow straight,
which obviously they aren't."
This is NOT the way I see the effect of cosmic rays. Instead, the rays
collide with charged particles WITHIN the cloud to increase their energy
level. This is how the charge within the cloud gets to the point where
streamers begin to form the path of the stroke. IOW, it takes a LOT of
cosmic rays to cause a cloud to be supercharged.
I also see runaway breakdown as a possibility of cosmic rays enhancing the
streamer development, although I am highly skeptical of this part of the
73, Keith NM5G
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